COVID-19 Update

June 4, 2020
Categories: Wellness | Community Updates

To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff Members:

Update #36 | Dated: 6-04-20

As we approach the end of the week, we wanted to pass along a few updates.

  1. We received updated guidance from the Department of Health (DOH) regarding how we approach individuals who have tested positive for the virus. This updated guidance can be found linked here for residents and here for staff. 
    • Previously, it was recommended that individuals who tested positive for the virus (including those who remained asymptomatic) should test negative for the virus after their 10-day illness period/resolution of symptoms.
    • Over the past few months the CDC has gathered more information and has now recommended changing this approach as individuals can continue to test positive for the virus (for more than 6 weeks after initial positive test) and not be infectious.
    • Moving forward we will follow the new DOH guidance and not require testing clearance for staff or residents if they do test positive for the virus. We will follow the clinical clearance guidance which is:
      • Symptomatic persons with confirmed COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 can return to Sterling Estates/end isolation quarantine procedures:
        • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND,
        • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
      • Asymptomatic persons with confirmed COVID-19 can return to Sterling Estates/end isolation quarantine procedures:
        • At least 10 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and the person remains asymptomatic.
        • Note: asymptomatic persons who test positive and later develop symptoms should follow the guidance for symptomatic persons above
  2. We have been working with the DOH and their team of Epidemiologists and feel confident that we will have updated policies and procedures around small group activities and dining soon; we hope to share those in the coming week.
  3. Our team has started the 3rd round of staff testing. We will provide those results as they become available next week.
  4. Finally, we are happy to report that our last resident who initially tested positive for the virus on April 27th and was hospitalized is able to return to Sterling Estates after being cleared by the hospital as no longer viral and in concurrence with the updated guidance from the CDC and DOH.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions or concerns. Have a good end to your week.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff Members:

Update #35 | Dated: 5-29-20

We hope everyone is having a good end to their weeks. As we begin our 12th week of quarantine procedures, we wanted to follow up with a few updates.

  1. We had the last of our 2nd round of staff testing completed this week. All 48 of our staff members returned negative test results.
  2. As we mentioned to you last week, we are working to finalize a partnership with a private company in order to provide as-needed testing for residents. We have a meeting early next week to discuss the details of a possible partnership with one of our current providers. Our hope is that we will be able to finalize the details of this partnership soon. We will be sure to follow up with updates next week.
  3. As many of you may heard, Governor Kemp issued additional Executive Orders addressing the state’s state of emergency declaration and giving additional guidance for reviving a healthy Georgia. We are actively working with the DOH to review our current policies and procedures and what our dining, wellness and visitation procedures will look like as we continue to adjust to our “new normal”. We will have additional updates and details for you as those conversations continue into next week.
  4. A successful part of our “new normal” has been the fact that our new touring procedures for interested individuals are going extremely well. We are hosting one on one meeting in outdoor setting (as possible) while observing all safe social distancing measures. Tours of our community are mostly conducted outside of our buildings where the parties spend no more than 15 minutes inside and consist of fewer than 4 people (including our staff), where all parties wear masks.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. Have a wonderful weekend.

Sincerely,

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff Members:

Update #34 | Dated: 5-22-20

We hope everyone is having a good end to their weeks. As we begin our 11th week of quarantine procedures, we wanted to follow up with a few updates.

  1. As we mentioned in an earlier communication, we have been supporting our staff members in getting tested for a 2nd time. We are happy to report that 46 of our 48 staff members have been tested.
    • All 46 have now returned negative test results.
    • Even though all 46 staff who have been tested now have negative test results, 2 staff members did return positive tests prior to retesting and returning negative results. Due to the fact that both staff members were asymptomatic we had both staff members retested and both returned negative test results the following day. Although we feel as if the initial test was flawed, we have treated these staff members as if they were positive and have asked that they remain home and quarantine for 10 days.
    • We will continue to have our staff tested regularly, approximately every 14 days.
  2. Access to more universal testing for our residents continues to be a challenge. We are looking into other private organizations to provide additional testing on a more regular basis for our residents. We should have an update on our progress on that initiative later next week.

Although this crisis has caused a tremendous disruption for all of us, we look to the future with a hopeful eye. Thank you again for your continued trust as we have navigated the challenges this pandemic has thrown our way. Looking back over the last 70 days we feel incredibly blessed to have each and every one of you as part of our community. As the state and our community gradually “open up for business” you can rest assured that we remain committed to your health and safety.

We hope everyone has a good Memorial Day weekend and please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything further we can be doing to better support you or your loved ones.

Sincerely,

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #33 | Dated: 5-15-20

We hope everyone is having a good end to their weeks. As we begin our 10th week of quarantine procedures, we wanted to follow up with a few updates.

  1. A big thanks to all of those families and loved ones who have participated in our outdoor visitations. It has been wonderful getting to see so many of you. Please continue to coordinate with our front desk to set a day and time for your visits and continue to practice safe social distancing.
  2. As we mentioned in an earlier communication, we have started to schedule our 2nd round of staff tests. We will have an update on those test results early in the coming week.
  3. We are working to schedule an additional deep cleaning through the National Guard in the coming weeks. We will communicate the date and time of that cleaning as soon as it is scheduled. We will of course continue our own rigorous cleaning procedures.
  4. Based on our collaboration with the Cobb County Public Health Long Term Care Facility Support Team, the DOH, the National Guard and the state Healthcare Associated Infection team we have developed a plan for the intake of new residents to our community. Unlike many communities, we have held off admitting any new residents to any of our 3 Georgia communities for over 2 months. That said, we feel that based on the guidance from these experts, the strength of our current quarantine policies and procedures, as well as our ability to effectively use PPE; we are in a good place to move forward implementing these guidelines. The safety of our residents and staff members has and continues to be our top priority and we wouldn’t be moving forward implementing this plan if we didn’t believe we could do it effectively. With that, any individual who is moving into our community will be required to have a negative clearance test prior to moving in.

We hope everyone has a good weekend and please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything further we could be doing to better support you or your loved ones.

Sincerely,

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #32 | Dated: 5-08-20

As we begin our 9th week of quarantine procedures we wanted to follow up with a few updates.

Updates on Our Residents:

  • We are happy to report that one of our residents who has been hospitalized with the virus is returning this afternoon after testing negative. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome them home!
  • Our other residents who went out with the virus remain at their respective hospitals. As we get additional updates, we will be sure to communicate those to you.

Update on Staff Testing:

  • We worked with the DOH to set timelines for our regular retesting or our staff members. We will be conducting these retests through the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership starting next week.
  • Moving forward we will endeavor to have our staff members retested approximately every 14 days.

Update on Department of Health Meeting:

  • We met with the Cobb County Public Health Long Term Care Facility Support Team (a partnership between the DOH and Wellstar) this morning, to again review our policies and procedures as well as talk through what some of the “new normal” will look like.
  • The Support Team was complimentary of our policies, procedures and levels of PPE in our buildings.
  • Their official write-up will be delivered sometime next week. That said, we have started the conversations with their group regarding what our community procedures will look like after June 12th (the end of Governor Kemp’s shelter in place order). One of main focal points are our dining procedures in particular and are excited about having the opportunity to again serve you in our award-winning dining room and outdoor areas.
  • We’ve also had in depth conversations on the policies and procedures of allowing new residents to join our community.
  • As these plans are finalized, we will be sure to communicate those to you and your loved ones.

Update on Supplies:

  • We continue to have ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, food, and other supplies in all of our buildings. 
    • We have been able to procure and deliver: surgical masks; N95 masks; cloth masks; gloves; face shields; other eye protection; gowns; thermometers; hand sanitizer, etc.
      • Shipments continue to arrive at our communities on a weekly basis

Family Visits:

  • It has been incredible to see so many of our families and loved ones coming to our community to partake in outdoor visits.
  • Please call the front desk (678-946-4454) to set up day/time for your visit.

Please continue to reach out to us with any additional questions or recommendations as to what we can be doing to better support your loved one.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #31 | Dated: 5-06-20

We’re happy to report that we’ve received all of the residents’ test results from our May 1st universal testing:

  • 61 individuals were tested on May 1st. 
    • 60 individuals returned negative results
    • 1 resident tested positive and remains asymptomatic
      • This resident lives with a resident who tested positive on April 27th and remains hospitalized. We’ve been caring for this resident as if he/she has the virus. Thus, receiving this test result does not change any of our policies/procedures
  • As a reminder:
    • All 20 of our residents who were tested on April 23rd returned negative tests
    • All 48 staff members have now tested negative
  • We are awaiting updates from the families of our residents currently hospitalized. Once we receive those, we will follow up

Even though having any of our Sterling family test positive for the virus is concerning, we’re happy to report that at this time we have no other residents or staff members have exhibited or expressed any COVID-19 related symptoms.

In consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) and based on these latest results, the effectiveness of our PPE and our policies and procedures, we are returning to our previous quarantine procedures:

  • Residents are no longer required to isolate in their rooms
  • Activities and wellness programs will take place in groups of 10 or less with social distancing
  • No visitors are permitted in our community
    • We will continue to support you in scheduling outdoor visits with your loved ones
  • We will continue to provide meals to residents’ rooms
  • All residents will continue to wear masks while receiving care
  • All residents will continue to wear masks while not in their rooms
  • All staff will continue to wear masks while in the building
  • We will continue to monitor residents at least 2x a day for any symptoms
  • We will continue to screen staff members 2x a day for any symptoms
  • We will continue to follow all other procedures that were distributed on March 18th

This was a challenging time for all of us here at Sterling Estates; we want to acknowledge and thank our residents as they confined themselves to their rooms. We know that their dedication, perseverance and fortitude had a lot to do with us getting to this point. Looking forward to better days ahead. Thank you.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:

Ann White: Executive Director: [email protected]

Marshall Gill: Chief Operating Officer/Partner: [email protected]

Nathan Madigan: Vice President of Operations: [email protected]


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #30 | Dated: 5-04-20

We wanted to give you an update since our last communication this past Friday.

The week got off to a good start:

  • We are happy to report that the last of our first 20 resident tests came back negative. This means that all 20 residents tested on April 23rd have tested negative.
  • The National Guard completed cleaning of all common spaces today. There were 14 guardsmen on site with cleaning lasting approximately 2 hours. The guardsmen used antiviral misters to help clean all fabric as well as spray and scrub disinfectants for all other surfaces.
    • We will continue all of our additional cleaning procedures throughout the building which include: 3x a day cleaning of all high touch areas and common areas, regular cleaning of all door handles, medicine cabinets, etc.

Regarding the universal testing which occurred on Friday:

  • We expect the results by the end of the week. We will be sure to communicate these results directly to you and your loved ones as soon as we receive them.
  • Once we get these results, we will be able to put together a more concrete plan that will allow us to set firm timelines for next steps for keeping us all safe while returning to our “new normal.”

For the assisted living families wishing to see their loved ones during our more rigorous quarantine procedures:

  • Starting tomorrow Tuesday, May 5th, we’re introducing protocols for outdoor visits. Of course, we’ll make sure everyone has all the necessary protective gear and meets all social distancing measures but know these “reunions” are way overdue. If you do have your own mask and gloves, please bring it for these outdoor visits. Please call the front desk (678-946-4454) to set up day/time for your visit.
    • These visits will be outdoors on either the front porch or back patio. At this time, we are still not accepting any visitors inside our buildings.
    • We will be taking your temperature prior to your visit.
    • We would like for these visits to be 20 – 30 minutes. This will then allow us to clean and disinfect between visits. 

For the cottage residents, please arrange your own visits, whether outdoors or in your own cottage. Again, we continue to urge the use of facemasks and social distancing.

We are working to get our residents out to enjoy this incredible weather and get some much-needed Vitamin D. We hope that you have the opportunity to do the same. Please continue to reach out to us with any additional questions or recommendations as to what we can be doing to better support your loved ones.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:

Ann White: Executive Director: [email protected]

Marshall Gill: Chief Operating Officer/Partner: [email protected]

Nathan Madigan: Vice President of Operations: [email protected]


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #29 | Dated: 5-1-20

This is a very difficult letter to write and one that we’ve worked very hard to try and avoid. We’re heartbroken to report that two of our residents, a husband and wife, passed away peacefully yesterday.  We’ve been in regular contact with the family and out of respect for these residents and their families, we aren’t in a position to mention names. We will honor these residents in the right way at the right time.

We know that hearing this news is very sad and causes worry. We too feel this anguish; just know that it continues to motivate us to do all we can to further protect our residents and staff.

We took a big step towards that today by taking part in universal testing for the virus. This will allow us to better care for those who may test positive but remain asymptomatic, if any, by giving us more information to support their care. It will also allow us to identify those who continue to be virus free and ensure that we keep them that way. This testing won’t change our procedures or policies but will allow us to better focus the full brunt of our resources in stamping out this virus. We should have all the results by this time next week.

Since this past Monday, we had no other residents or staff exhibiting or expressing any COVID-19 related symptoms.

As a reminder, we have scheduled another deep clean for all of our communal spaces, this time through the Georgia National Guard. The cleaning is scheduled for the morning of May 4th.  

As you’re probably aware, Governor Kemp has allowed the initial statewide shelter in place order (signed on April 4th) to expire for most of the state of Georgia. That said, he has extended the executive order (signed on April 8th) that pertains to the medically fragile, people older than 65, or residents who live in long-term care facilities through June 12th by signing the executive order yesterday found here.

We will continue our rigorous quarantine procedures based on this renewed shelter in place order through at least June 12th. We will also require our staff members to continue to follow our policies and procedures around staying safe and vigilant while both in our communities and out through that time as well.

We’re pleased to report that starting next Tuesday, May 5th, we’re introducing protocols for outdoor visits between our assisted living residents and their loved ones. Of course, we’ll make sure everyone has all the necessary protective gear and meets all social distancing measures but know these “reunions” are way overdue. If you do have your own mask, please bring it for these outdoor visits. Please call the front desk (678-946-4454) to set up day/time for your visit.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:

Ann White: Executive Director: [email protected]

Marshall Gill: Chief Operating Officer/Partner: [email protected]

Nathan Madigan: Vice President of Operations: [email protected]


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #28 | Dated: 4-30-20

We wanted to reach out to give you a few updates since our last communication earlier this week.

  1. We are awaiting updates from the families of our residents currently hospitalized. Once we receive those, we will follow up you.
  2. We have received 19 of the 20 test results from the resident testing that was completed at the end of last week. We are happy to report that all 19 have come back negative!
    • We will update you once we receive the last result as soon as we get it.
  3. As a reminder, the National Guard will be on site tomorrow morning supporting us in the testing of the untested residents.
    • Testing should begin around 9:30am and we hope to be complete by midday.
    • The National Guard will look like they are from Mars wearing “space suits”. This is standard operating procedure for the Guard. Although it may look scary, the Guardsman are wearing this equipment to keep both you and themselves safe. One of our staff members, who will be in our regular PPE equipment, will accompany the Guard as they test each resident. 
    • We expect the results of these tests by early to mid-next week. We will of course communicate those results out to our residents and families once we receive them.

We know that having the National Guard come tomorrow to support our testing may cause some anxiety. That said, we engaged the National Guard as it was the fastest and safest way to get universal testing at our community. Once we are able to get these results, we will be able to put together a more concrete plan that will allow us to set firm timelines for next steps for keeping us all safe while returning to our “new normal.”

If you should have any questions or concerns about tomorrow’s plan or anything else for that matter, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #27 | Dated: 4-28-20

We wanted to follow up on our last communication with additional updates.

  1. A resident was hospitalized yesterday with a fever and tested positive for the virus.
    • With this latest development, we now have a total of 9 residents who have tested positive for the virus with 6 of the 9 remaining hospitalized.
  2. All three of our staff members who tested positive early in the month (again, two never experienced any symptoms) have since met all quarantine timelines recommended by the Department of Health (DOH) and have received clearance tests showing that they are now negative for the virus.
    • Each of these employees will be returning to Sterling this week.
  3. We are awaiting the results of the 20 resident tests performed this past Thursday. We will follow up with an update on those results once we receive them.
  4. We have been able to schedule testing for all remaining residents through the DOH and National Guard. This testing will be completed this Friday, May 1st. We will be reaching out to each resident and their family over the coming days to confirm your desire/permission to be tested.
  5. We have scheduled another deep clean for all of our communal spaces, this time through the Georgia National Guard. The cleaning is scheduled for the morning of May 4th. That said, we continue all of our additional cleaning procedures throughout the building which include: 3x a day cleaning of all high touch areas and common areas, regular cleaning of all door handles, medicine cabinets, etc.

As we recognized early in our fight against this virus, this quarantine is incredibly difficult on all of our residents. While our team is focused on the health and safety of our residents, we’re also focused on keeping every resident as engaged and fulfilled as possible.  Of the 5 key areas that we have been focusing on during our quarantine (Spiritual, Physical, Social, Nutritional and Mental Stimulation / Entertainment needs), we wanted to share a new initiative that we’ve started to roll out to better serve the physical and mental needs of our residents.

We’re supporting our residents in getting out of their rooms and outdoors as regularly and safely as possible during our more rigorous quarantine:

  • This is done on a one on one basis with a staff member supporting each resident and ensures that we are meeting all social distancing requirements.
  • All residents and staff members will be wearing personal protective equipment.

Our goal in getting our residents out of their rooms and outdoors is:

  • Better connection with others to decrease isolation in a safe manner.
  • Increase movement to support the health of all of our residents. Regular exercise will decrease muscle loss, fatigue and improves circulation.
  • Enjoy the beautiful weather (Vitamin D) that we’re experiencing.

We also continue to offer programming in all of our residents’ rooms based on the activity calendar that was shared earlier and can be found here.

We have updated our website so as to curate both these letters and other helpful information regarding our response to the pandemic. Please visit our website here.

Please continue to reach out to us with any additional questions or recommendations as to what we can be doing to better support your loved one as we quarantine.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #26 | Dated: 4-23-20

We want to provide you with updates since our last communication:

  1. Our residents who tested positive over the past week continue to be hospitalized.
    1. Two residents have improved to the point where they will be discharged to a rehabilitation center soon; the hope is that they can rejoin our community as soon as possible.
    2. Another resident has begun physical therapy at the hospital with the hope that the improvement continues and that they can return to Sterling once testing negative.
    3. We are awaiting updates on our other two residents currently hospitalized.
  2. Two residents who were hospitalized and initially tested negative for the virus have again tested negative. One resident rejoined our community yesterday and the second will be coming back to Sterling in the coming days.
  3. We are happy to report that 100% of our employees have been tested through the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership.
    1. A total of 48 staff members were tested
    2. 3 staff members tested positive on April 13th
    3. Since that time, all 45 remaining staff members have tested negative for the virus.
    4. We will continue our virus testing protocols at various intervals for the foreseeable future.
  4. We were able to test 20 of our residents today. We are working on a plan with the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Guard to test all of our remaining residents as soon as possible. We will give you updates on that schedule once we can finalize logistics with DOH and National Guard.
  5. We continue to have ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, food, and other supplies in all of our buildings.
    1. We have been able to procure and deliver: surgical masks; N95 masks; cloth masks; gloves; face shields; other eye protection; gowns; thermometers; etc.
    2. We have purchased and expect delivery by the end of the month:
      1. 4,000 KN95 masks
      2. 5,000 gowns
  6. Many of you have reached out asking about our staff…interested to hear more about what we’re doing to support our team during these challenging times. In fact, we’ve had lots of offers to assist if there were any areas of need. Thank you for your interest and gracious offers; we feel fortunate and are in solid position to be able to offer additional supports to our team members and their families. Along those lines, our most recent staff communication is included below.
    1. That said, please continue reaching out with your messages of support for our staff. When our staff read how their efforts are positively impacting both our residents and their families, it is a tremendous source of pride and serves as a reminder that the work they do each day has an incredible impact.

Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement. If there is anything that we can do to better support you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:

 

Letter to Staff Update #8 | Dated: 4-24-20

Dear Staff:

Today marks the end of our 6th week of quarantine procedures (starting back on March 13th). This has been a difficult time for all of us here at Sterling Estates. Each of you has continued to answer the call to serve in the most difficult times. Your dedication and professionalism continue to inspire us all, including our residents and their loved ones. As seen on our “Wall of Praise,” your efforts are having big impacts on people’s lives. One recent resident compliment stands out:

“You certainly are ‘Care Warriors’ — I see evidence of it constantly.  You are the most committed and caring group of people I have ever encountered.  And I get to live here…and witness your fortitude day after day.”

Thus far, you and your teammates have done an incredible job implementing our policies and procedures and staying disciplined when not at work. We know that this discipline and sacrifice is not always an easy thing to do, and it can create personal hardships for both you and your loved ones.

We also know Governor Kemp’s latest order to restart the economy will put more pressure on your efforts to stay diligent and vigilant when away from work. We don’t believe the Governor’s decision should apply to health care workers including those in the senior living industry at this time. 

The easing of our state’s pandemic guidelines doesn’t apply to us here at Sterling Estates. Each of you have worked too hard to keep our residents and your teammates safe for us to let up now.

Your decisions and actions will continue to impact other people’s lives. We’ve experienced asymptomatic transmission of the virus. With a virus as dangerous as this, you must avoid all risks.

In order to reward you for your amazing efforts thus far and to emphasize what your efforts will mean into the future we are paying you another bonus…this one comes with continued behavioral expectations and responsibilities on your part.

We are paying you a bonus with the understanding that you agree to continue to live under the previous shelter in place guidelines.

Also, to keep everyone as safe as possible, we will continue our virus testing protocols at various intervals for the foreseeable future.

While it’s impossible to know exactly when we’ll be “back to normal”, we feel confident in saying there are better days on the horizon. Until then, please continue being the “Care Warrior” you are.

There are a lot of people counting on you.

If you have any questions about what’s expected of you, or if there is anything that we can do to better support you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to your manager/Executive Director.

“Perseverance: the secret of all triumphs”. We got this.

Mike, Steve, Marshall, Bryan, Pete, Ray and Nathan

The Sterling Estates Partners


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #25 | Dated: 4-21-20

Today marks the halfway point of our 6th week of quarantine procedures (starting back on March 13th) and we know that this has been a difficult time. With that, we want to share a few updates since our communication with you on Sunday afternoon:

  1. A resident was hospitalized late Sunday night. We were informed yesterday that they tested positive for the virus.
  2. A resident was hospitalized this morning. We were informed this afternoon that they also tested positive for the virus.
    • This brings the total number of individuals testing positive for the virus to 11: 8 residents (including 1 couple) and 3 staff members.
  1. Since Sunday, we’ve had an additional 15 staff members tested through the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership. All 15 returned negative tests. We currently stand at 36 staff members tested with 33 negative tests and 3 positives. These 3 staff members will only return to work after applicable quarantine periods and testing negative for the virus.
    • We continue to schedule all of our staff members to get tested with the plan of having everyone tested by end of this week.
  2. We have contracted a private cleaning group to again conduct additional cleanings of common spaces and units of those residents who have tested positive.
  3. We have instituted updated cleaning frequencies and guidelines.
  4. We are conducting additional staff trainings to review appropriate PPE procedures as well as prioritizing manager observations to ensure that staff receive real time feedback to further limit the chance of accidental transmission.
  5. We continue to work with the Department of Health (DOH) to make resources available for the testing of asymptomatic residents. While we’re reliant on the DOH for this, we do feel like we’ve made progress and hope to perform testing, at least on a limited basis, very soon.
  6. We continue to have ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) in all of our buildings. To make sure that this continues, we’ve identified vendors who will be able to provide us with more gowns, a derivative of the N95 masks and cleaning supplies. Even with the extreme stress this virus has caused to most supply chains, we expect shipments of the additional PPE to arrive by month’s end.

As you’re aware by now, Governor Kemp issued an Executive Order (linked here) to begin restarting the economy, while trying to keep us all safe. This is a complex, multifaceted and difficult decision…and one that is wrought with challenges for us all, including senior living providers. As such, we wanted to begin to address what this means for our residents, families and staff members.

For the foreseeable future, we will continue our rigorous quarantine procedures as the virus continues to be transferred in the state of Georgia. We will require our staff members to continue following our policies and procedures around staying safe and vigilant while both in our communities and out.

That said, we are working on plans for what “reopening” our communities will look like once we reach the appropriate time. We are coordinating these efforts with the DOH and other state agencies. We won’t make any changes to our current protocols or procedures without first having their input.

Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement during these trying times. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions or concerns.  

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #24 | Dated: 4-19-20

We wanted to follow up Saturday’s communication with additional updates. As you will see below, there is some discouraging news despite all of our best efforts to stop the virus spread. That said, you will also see that we’ve been able to make progress in our fight through the addition of testing resources along with more residents and staff members returning negative tests.

  • Since yesterday’s communication, we had 4 residents exhibit or report symptoms who have since been hospitalized:
    • Three of these residents have returned positive tests for the virus.
    • The fourth resident who was hospitalized returned a negative test for the virus.
    • Bringing the total number of residents tested to 9 thus far: 6 positive (including 1 couple) and 3 negative for the virus.
  • In summary, we’ve had 9 total individuals testing positive for the virus: 6 residents and 3 staff members.
  • Based on these latest incidents, our team conducted contact tracing based on the Department of Health (DOH) guidelines and were able to determine no residents or staff met the primary contact metrics due to our isolation protocols in place since April 10th.
  • We have continued to support our staff in getting tested for the virus. Thus far, we’ve had 21 of our 50 staff members tested through the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership: 3 testing positive and 18 testing negative.
    • Of the 3 testing positive, our only staff member who displayed symptoms is doing much better and has been symptom free for multiple days. The other 2 staff members never displayed symptoms.
  • We hope to have all staff members tested as soon as possible. We are working with the DOH and National Guard to coordinate testing at the community, the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership and the private sector.
  • On our Friday call with the DOH, we were told that the DOH is working to make resources available for the testing of asymptomatic residents in senior living communities. As we coordinate with their team, we’re also working with the private sector to identify testing resources if needed. Of course, we will update you as we make progress on these efforts.
  • We continue to have ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff and residents.

Marshall has joined Ann and her team this weekend to support our staff, residents and family members who have stopped by to make deliveries, emailed or called.

Each time we receive the news that one of our family members has been impacted by the virus our hearts ache. That ache quickly turns to further desire and determination to do everything we possibly can to keep everyone safe and healthy. None of us wanted to be in this fight, but we are here to answer the bell…and we will win.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents and Family Members:

Update #23 | Dated: 4-18-20

Good afternoon Sterling family. We wanted to send a note updating you on a few items from the end of the week.

At this point, no other residents or staff have exhibited or expressed any COVID-19 related symptoms.

  • Wanting to make sure we’re doing anything and everything possible to keep everyone safe, we scheduled a Zoom conference call on Friday with the Georgia Department of Health (DOH), DOH Epidemiologists, the state Healthcare Associated Infections team and the National Guard.
  • On the call with these experts, we again reviewed our policies and procedures for ensuring the safety of our residents and staff.
  • All four groups again agreed that we are taking the correct steps to protect our community.
    • We will continue our more rigorous quarantine procedures through April 29th.
  • That said, we did come away with a few updates to our procedures detailed below:
  1. All residents will wear masks while receiving care.
    • We are providing surgical masks to our residents and will replenish them as needed.
  2. We have updated our glove guidelines to require even more changes while delivering food and removing trash.
  3. We are scheduling additional staff trainings on how to appropriately don and remove masks.
  4. As we get additional thermometers, we are continuing to train and retrain staff on how to best use each type of device.
  5. We are implementing additional observations so as to ensure our staff are following through consistently on our implemented policies/procedures.
  • We are happy to report that we received word that a recently hospitalized resident tested negative for the virus.
  • Three additional staff members (showing no symptoms) were tested at the end of the week through the CVS and Georgia Tech partnership.
    • The first staff member, who had not worked since Saturday April 11th, did test positive and will continue to quarantine at home and self-monitor for symptoms.
    • The second and third staff members tested negative for the virus.

We continue to have ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) in all of our buildings. To make sure that this continues to be the case, we’ve identified multiple vendors who will be able to provide us with more gowns and a derivative of the N95 masks. Even with the extreme stress this virus has caused to most supply chains, we expect shipments of the additional PPE to arrive in the coming week.

Our incredible staff continue to stay vigilant at both the community and while at home. They come to work every day to care for you and your loved ones. Recently, at one of our daily staff meetings, a colleague made the comment that our team are “care warriors”. We couldn’t agree more. Our staff continue to fight every day to keep our community and your loved ones safe. Your emails, cards, and other expressions of gratitude and encouragement (donuts, cookies, ChikFilA, etc) continue to help sustain them…thank you so much!

We will continue to update you regularly. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.  

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents and Family Members:

Update #22 | Dated: 4-16-20

This is the most difficult letter we’ve had to write; we know this will be hard news to hear. But in keeping with our promise to be transparent and timely in our communication, we felt it necessary to let you know that 3 of our residents passed away today.

Out of respect for these residents and their families, we aren’t in a position to mention names yet. As always, we will honor these residents in the right way at the right time. We share our deepest condolences with each of these families.

  1. The resident who tested positive last weekend and who had a long history with respiratory disease passed away yesterday evening. We have been in touch with his son regularly through this trying time and he informed us that his father went peacefully.
  2. Late yesterday one of our residents who had been battling an elongated fight with a blood disease, requiring transfusions outside or our community, was hospitalized. We learned today that this resident passed away quietly this morning and did test positive for the virus.
  3. Early this morning, one of our longtime residents was hospitalized. This resident had been fighting a previous bacterial infection and has since succumbed to this infection. We don’t know if a virus test was given.

Each of these residents were important members of our Sterling family and will truly be missed.

After contacting the Department of Health (DOH) to inform them of today’s news, they followed up with us stating: “the facility is already doing everything possible to prevent spread.” While this reassurance gives us confidence in our policies/procedures, we take little comfort given the fact that we’re experiencing losses in our fight. Through our partnership with the state DOH and their epidemiologist, we’re seeking to gain additional knowledge, conducting investigations and refining our procedures based on their consultation. As we get more information, we will share those updates with you.

We all share in your concern. Like you, we wake up every day praying that this virus would just disappear. But it hasn’t. Although we hate and feel terribly that this situation has befallen us, you have our word that we will keep up the good fight. We are suited to beat it. Marshall is at the community everyday supporting Ann and her team as they care for and support our residents. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions or if there is anything we can do to better support you.

We will win this fight by staying together.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:


To Our Residents and Family Members:

These incidents, where someone in our Sterling family has tested positive (3 residents and 2 staff members), have all been unique. The challenge has been to determine if there is any correlation between the cases.

Update #21 | Dated: 4-14-20

Below is an update regarding our latest incident.

  • We have been in regular contact with the family of the resident who tested positive on April 12th. He/She continues to be in good spirits while hospitalized.
  • Yesterday afternoon we spoke at length with the Department of Health (DOH) about this latest incident. With their guidance, we were able to complete our contract tracing investigation.
    • We have identified one staff member who meets the exposure guidelines. He/she will remain quarantined at home for 14 days, self-monitoring for any symptoms.
    • We determined that due to the fact that the community was under an isolation protocol for a majority of the week and with the resident who tested positive only leaving the room once post isolation quarantine, no other residents met the exposure criteria.
  • Yesterday morning one of our staff members called in with symptoms. We supported this staff member and another who is in close contact with him/her (who continues to be asymptomatic) to get a test through the partnership with CVS and Georgia Tech.
    • Yesterday afternoon we learned that both of these staff members tested positive for the virus.
  • Along with supporting these two staff members to get tested we supported 4 others who had been in close contact (but do not meeting CDC contact tracing guidelines) with our resident who tested positive on April 12th.
    • All 4 of these staff members returned a negative
  • We are following the Department of Health’s guidance when a staff member tests positive:
    • If the staff member is asymptomatic: the staff member will stay home under quarantine for 7 days, self-monitoring themselves for symptoms. If no symptoms they can come back to work after those 7 days.
    • If the staff member does show symptoms, the staff member must stay quarantined for no less than 7 days or 72 hours after the last reported symptom.
  • If any other staff member displays symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus we will continue to support in obtaining test for the virus.
  • With these two additional staff members testing positive for the disease, we will continue our more rigorous isolation/quarantine procedures through at least April 26th.

We continue to be in regular communication with the DOH and they continue to believe that the measures we have in place, through our isolation/quarantine protocols, are appropriate.  We will continue to update you on any additional guidance they provide.

In the midst of this challenging news we are happy to report that the resident who first tested positive for the virus on March 28th (who has since tested negative) has returned to Sterling Estates and is doing well.

Marshall met with our staff yesterday evening to give the team these updates. Our staff remain committed to caring for your loved one and doing all we can to keep everyone healthy and safe.

 At this point, no other residents or staff have exhibited or expressed any COVID-19 related symptoms.

Although we know that the updates above contain a lot of information and much of it distressing, our promise to you has and will continue to be transparent and timely in our communication. With the expansion of this pandemic, we knew that these days would come when we would have members of our Sterling family come down with the virus. We have been preparing for these times and remain confident in our processes and procedures and remain committed as ever to keeping our residents and teammates safe.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:


To Our Residents and Family Members:

Update #20 | Dated: 4-13-20

We wanted to follow up on Saturday’s communication with additional updates.

  • We are pleased to report that the resident who was hospitalized with a fever and shortness of breath tested negative for the virus.
    • Two tests were administered (Saturday and Sunday) and both tests were negative.
  • A 2nd individual was hospitalized late Saturday evening with a fever and cough. The hospital administered a COVID-19 test and that came back positive
    • We have communicated this new information to the Department of Health (DOH).
    • Due to the fact that we are already under strict quarantine procedures this development does not change our current procedures.
  • We’re waiting to hear back from DOH and their team of epidemiologists on specifics of our internal investigation and contact tracing. Once we finalize that investigation and confirm findings with DOH, we will follow up with additional updates.
    • For now, we should plan on being under strict quarantine and isolation protocols until April 25th. If we hear differently from DOH, we will be sure to communicate that out immediately.

Given the frequency of our daily communications, we hope they aren’t cause for greater concern and make situations like this feel even more magnified. We want to err on side of over communication in these unprecedented times.

To that point we wanted to give you a brief summary:

  • We instituted quarantine procedures on March 13th
  • We learned that our first resident tested positive for the virus on March 28th
    • That resident has since tested negative for the virus with the hope of returning to Sterling this week.
  • Due to this first incident, we were under rigorous isolation quarantine procedures through April 8th
    • No other residents or staff reported or exhibited any COVID-19 related symptoms during that time.
  • A resident was hospitalized on Saturday, April 11th with a fever and shortness of breath.
    • The resident has since tested negative for the virus.
  • A 2nd resident was hospitalized later in the evening on Saturday, April 11th with a fever and cough.
    • This resident received a test for the virus, and we learned that the test came back positive on Sunday April 12th.

With yesterday’s news, we went from celebrating the negative test results to feeling as if we were punched in the gut. However, across all three of our communities with approximately 450 residents and 235 employees, we have only had two individuals test positive for COVID-19. And although both have occurred at our East Cobb location, we remain committed to following the exact same policies and procedures that are in place at all three communities and have kept the infection from spreading.

With this latest incident, our Chief Operating Officer and partner, Marshall Gill will continue to be onsite daily supporting our residents and staff.  If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

Contact Information:


To Our Residents and Family Members:

Update #19 | Dated: 4-11-20

Early this morning one of our assisted living residents at Sterling States of East Cobb was hospitalized due to a high fever and shortness of breath. After our team assessed her, we reached out to emergency medical services (EMS). EMS determined that it was in the resident’s best interest to be hospitalized. A COVID-19 test has been administered, and we are waiting on those results.

As we await the results of the test, prudence dictates that we proceed as if the resident does have the virus. Thus, we are implementing the additional more rigorous quarantine procedures and protocols from our earlier incident. The resident remains hospitalized. We are in touch with the resident’s family and will continue to honor the resident’s privacy.

At this time, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Sterling Estates East Cobb.

We are following both local and CDC protocols and have been in direct contact with the Cobb County Department of Health and their epidemiologists. Details of these protocols are summarized below.

We have conducted an investigation to identify staff who have had direct contact with the resident who was hospitalized. At this time no staff meet the CDC/Department of Health guidelines on contact tracing. This resident has had little interaction with our care staff or our other assisted living residents.

That said, we continue to monitor all staff for: 

  • Feverish/temperature over 100.4
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • sore throat
  • stomach pain
  • Issues with taste

We have scheduled a cleaning of the resident’s apartment and will continue additional cleanings of our common areas.

Below is a summary of the more rigorous quarantine procedures we are now implementing:

Residents:

  • Residents must now remain in their apartments until further notice.
  • Residents’ temperatures will continue to be taken twice a day.
  • We will continue to provide in-room meal services.

Staff:

  • All staff will wear a mask and gloves as recommended while in the community.
  • All companions will continue to wear PPE (gloves, eye protection and mask) while providing care for our residents.
  • Staff members will continue to receive symptom screenings three times a day, including a temperature check.

If the test comes back negative, we will return to our previous quarantine procedures and end our isolation protocols. If the test comes back positive, residents must remain in their apartments for 14 days, until April 25th.

As we’ve written previously, we believe in our plan and our incredible team. It worked with our first incident where we were able to limit the virus to only one resident and no staff members.

Ann is onsite and communicating with our residents and staff. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We will be back in touch as soon as we have the test results.

This news is difficult for us all. However, we remain resolute and will continue to do all that we can to keep our residents and staff safe. 

Thank you again for your continued support, encouragement and prayers.

The Sterling Estates Partners

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